Bunni Tobias, 62; Psychologist, Expert on Hyperactivity

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bunni Tobias, 62, an educational psychologist known as “the kid’s detective” who evaluated children for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, died Jan. 9 in Lake Forest of Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease.

A native of Port Chester, N.Y., Tobias was educated at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After moving to Orange County, she earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from Cal State Long Beach and a doctorate in psychology counseling at Newport University, with additional graduate studies at UC Irvine and Chapman University.

She worked for several years as a teacher and school psychologist at Saddleback Valley Unified School District before opening her own practice in 1992.


As an expert on hyperactivity, Tobias was frequently consulted by news media about the use of the drug Ritalin or various antidepressants for children. She often determined that a child’s problem was not ADHD, but a combination of complex issues that could include learning disabilities or anxiety disorders.

Generally opposed to quick-fix medications for children, Tobias espoused her motto of “solving problems, not labeling children.” She was the author of the resource guide and audiotape program “ADHD Look-Alikes: Other Reasons Children Flit, Squirm, Distract and Just Space Out!”